Like a grinning child at a carnival, Iqbal M. Binoj, MD, steps right up and gives it a try—except instead of tossing rings, he’s gripping an intraosseous infusion drill.
A tutor shows him how the device, which looks remarkably like a glue gun, inserts into the bones of the shoulder or knee and drills down until it hits the marrow. He is guided on using a steady speed to maintain the integrity of the cavity. He’s also taught about the maneuver’s low complication rates and ability to expedite workups.
“I’ve seen it used before, but I never did it,” says Dr. Binoj, a hospitalist with Cogent HMG at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, Iowa.
Well, he never did it before a hands-on pre-course at HM13 that focused on improving hospitalists’ proficiency at such procedures as lumbar punctures and ultrasound-guided vascular access. Quality improvement (QI) is always a focus of SHM’s annual meeting, but sometimes the science of improving care is viewed from up on high.
Not everything needs to be a national imitative, an institution-wide project, or even a unit-based intervention. Sometimes, it’s as simple as teaching a room full of hospitalists how to use an intraosseous infusion drill, says Michelle Fox, RN, BSN, senior director of clinical affairs with Vidacare, which manufactures the drill used in the demonstration.
“Hospitalists have an increasing role in doing these procedures, not only in the environment they predominantly support but in other areas of the hospital,” Fox says, adding that “the primary goal of this course is to give them the opportunity to perfect those skills.”
Hospitalist Bradley Rosen, MD, MBA, FHM, medical of the inpatient specialty program at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, says the point of hands-on demonstrations is to translate QI to the bedside. Take ultrasound devices, he says. In the past few years, the technology has become less expensive, better in resolution, more common, and more portable. Hospitalists must ensure hands-on training that keeps pace with that technology.
“We actually want people to get gloves on, hands on, learn where they may have challenges in terms of their own dexterity or workflow, which hand is dominant, and how to visualize on the ultrasound machine a three-dimensional structure in 2D,” he says. “We don’t want people watching from the sidelines. … We try to get people in it and engaged.”
And once hospitalists master procedures or diagnostic maneuvers, they invariably are sought out by other physicians to pass that knowledge on to others, Dr. Rosen says.
“In so doing, we get involved in larger quality initiatives and systemwide changes that can go top-down,” he adds, “but from our perspective, it starts with the individual practitioner. And I think SHM has always advocated and preached the importance of the individual hospitalist doing the best possible job for your patient, and the group, and the institution.”
What’s best for individual institutions moving forward is what worries SHM immediate past president Shaun Frost, MD, SFHM. He fears CMS’ Value-Based Payment Modifier (VBPM) program could have the unintended consequence of spurring some hospitals to hang on to innovative ideas in order to keep a competitive business advantage.
In health care, where quality and affordability have long been viewed as valuable for nonmonetary reasons, “the medical profession willingly shares new information” to improve patient care, Dr. Frost said in his farewell speech. But he is concerned that commodification—imbuing monetary value into something that previously had none—could change that dynamic, a situation he says is “ethically not acceptable.”